Ringing in at a 25.4% poverty rate, Romania is one of the six countries off the coast of the Black Sea in southeast Europe that has seen its fair share of poverty and struggle in the last century. Taking part in both World Wars and being under Soviet occupation has severely weakened the economy as well as the morale of natives, and resulted in escalating poverty in Romania.
After reaching a point of good economic growth and being the second-largest producer of oil in Europe after World War I, Romania was pulled into the crossfires of World War II by an ultimatum from the USSR. This led to Soviet occupation and, ultimately, the decline of Romania. Not only did the Soviets exploit Romanian natural resources, but they also implemented a mass genocide targeting the Jews and Roma communities.
Once the communist influence had pulled out, however, Romania was left in shambles. The post-USSR era called for the reorganization of farmland, which displaced many of the farmers and added to the problem of poverty in Romania. Since Romania cultivated a predominantly agriculture-based economy, this disturbed the lives of many and resulted in a shift to subsistence farming. Farmers were bound to low levels of production and marginal incomes due to a lack of resources.
Furthermore, because 44% of Romanians live in rural areas, according to the Rural Poverty Portal, almost half of the population is confined to small-scale farming. In particular, people that reside in the remote mountain areas face the harshest conditions due to minimal access to infrastructure.
Poverty in Romania
For the past couple of decades, these farmers have been stuck in the vicious cycle of working for the bare necessities of living for generations. In 2015, a Eurostat news release projected that 46.8% of children were at risk of poverty. This low level of living and lack of opportunity has propelled Romania into a primarily emigration-based nation.
Ethnic minorities and victims of the post-communist decline in jobs looked for hope outside of Romania, which caused the natives to look for opportunities outside the nation as well. According to Focus Migration, around two million Romanians moved in order to better their lives. This included professionals that are vital to the survival of a nation, such as doctors.
Despite the low unemployment rates and misleading statistics often presented by the Romanian elite, there is still much work to accomplish regarding human rights, government, economy, and poverty in Romania for it to be a safer and more stable country for its residents.
– Tanvi Wattal